First view from lead MEP on CAP direction
LEAKED drafts of the reports prepared by the MEPs in charge of the CAP dossiers are circulating in Brussels. The long awaited report on direct payments, prepared by ‘rapporteur’ Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos MEP (EU Socialists), is grabbing most of the headlines.
Key points include advocating capping payments, reducing payments above €250,000 by 80% instead of 70% and reinforcing the €300,000 payment ceiling. He aims to change the Commission proposals on moving towards a flat rate payment by 2019 in favour of greater flexibility for Member States, warning against an ‘abrupt transition’. He adds that member states should ensure that reductions in individual payments between 2014 and 2019 should be no more than 30%.
Mr Capoulas supports the view that ‘agri-environment farmers should be entitled ipso facto to the greening payment’ if they are ‘beneficiaries of agri environment-climatic payments’. In his amendment on the details of the greening measures he calls for the three crop requirement to remain for farms above 20ha but says that smaller farms between 5-20ha should only be required to maintain two different crops. He supports the introduction of a 7% Ecological Focus Area (EFA) but suggests an expansion of the features that qualify to include hedges, stone walls and land planted with nitrogen fixing crops. He also suggests a reduction to 5% EFA for groups of farmers ‘putting in place continuous, adjacent ecological focus areas’ adding that cooperation to install biodiversity corridors should be encouraged.
Some of the other highlights include support for greater flexibility to transfer money between the Pillars and support for CAP funds to go to ‘active farmers’ through the creation of a ‘negative list’ that exclude direct aids going to those not actively engaged in farming.
Ministers discuss EU
Foreign Affairs Ministers met again last week to try to progress discussions on the EU Budget 2014-2020. Debates revolved around the latest version of a document – known as the negotiating box – which is based on the discussions held since July 2011 and which contains the central issues on both EU expenditure and revenue. Although ‘well received’ according to the Danish Presidency, the document did not have figures attached as it was thought that inserting numbers would be ‘premature’ at this stage.
CAP related discussions once again were centred on the distribution of payments between the member states with some ministers repeating calls for the scope and timeframe for the balancing of payments to be more ambitious. Others rejected this idea and said that the wording on this issue in the document was already too drastic. While the Irish and French insisted that they would not support a reduction in direct aids to farmers, the Dutch Minister called for ‘better’ spending on research and development and competitiveness.
MEPs vote for voluntary bovine EID
Environment Committee MEPs voted for the electronic identification (EID) of cattle to remain voluntary across Europe and for the deletion of voluntary beef labelling provisions last week. The report, adopted by 30 votes in favour and 15 against, calls on the Commission to review the uptake of EID across the EU within five years so it can assess whether it is feasible to introduce compulsory EID for cattle. The council position is still unclear, with the Special Committee on Agriculture i.e. the technical experts from the member states, meeting soon to discuss the dossier.
EU farmers back UK on sheep EID review
Difficulties with the implementation of the European Commission’s individual sheep identification regulation, adopted back in 2005, dominated the agenda of the Copa Sheep working group meeting last Tuesday. The UK and Irish delegations presented a proposal that called for guidance of the use of cross compliance sanctions and a review of the regulation to only require individual identification when the animal leaves the holding of birth. A large number of delegations, including Spain, France, Germany and Sweden also spoke out against the regulation which they said had increased administration burdens, cross compliance fines and welfare problems. The group is now considering how best to approach the Commission to review the regulation.
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Weather for Belfast
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east